Friday, July 02, 2010

The Dance of Life - Part 1

Subjecting oneself to a different experience is almost always eye-opening if not enlightening. Actually, I am so glad I did something different yesterday. More often than not, I hate parties, crowds and noisy places. I find most of them to be a meaningless affair, not that I look for meaning in everything around me. ;-) But there are some occasions when I manage to stay sane in such an environment and engage myself in a few constructive or hilarious conversations. (My life, I suspect, swings largely between two key, yet paradoxical, dimensions of life - philosophy and humor). There are also a few rare occasions when I discover that I am in a mood to actually tune into the heart-beat of the crowd and feel its however meaningless or mindless excitement. 

I'd however be lying if I say the same thing about organizational events. To be passionate about one's work, it is not enough if one just loves the domain or function one is in but should also be able to identify with the organization's objectives and feel its pulse. A meet to celebrate annual achievement in business brings together various divisions of the organization, its leaders and its complete - live - story. These are the times when one gets to see the whole picture, the near future, connect the dots, be inspired by those in the limelight and so on. While I enjoy the overall experience of understanding the organization better and stepping deeper into its alleys and junctions, I generally prefer to scoot when the party reaches its end and people shift to the 'pure entertainment' mode. Going back to where I started, which I fortunately had the sense to put down in writing so I don't forget, yesterday was an exception. (Poor imitation of Woody Allen, I know)

I was lazily digging a fork and spoon into some regular rice grains and veggies when I noticed that people were warming up to the loud dance music that was being played in the conference room. There was a small wooden dance floor waiting for people to tap their feet on it (or perhaps stomp their feet on it). As usual, one person took the initiative and started responding to the music and gradually a huge crowd joined him and was soon swinging away in various directions in utter disharmony. I decided to join the small group of people who were watching the scene with rapt attention and amusement and soon enough some ideas popped into my suddenly awakened analytical mind. I thought the dance floor, interestingly enough, reflected our lives in so many ways. At least for me, it had a lot to teach.

You're not the one playing the music, but you still decide to respond to it through your dance. Incidentally, what is it about free-style spontaneous dancing that demonstrates that no one could possibly enjoy life the way you do? :-) What next? The music keeps changing constantly and does so unannounced. You have plenty of options. You're either immersed and happy enough to adapt to the change, followed by a change of dance-style to suit the new music & rhythm while still enjoying yourself, Or you could complain or scream at no one in particular (or everyone around) about the change of music and make a fuss and generally be annoyed, Or you could let it stun you enough to sadly freeze you to the spot. Think about it. And then, you could choose not to enter the dance floor at all and simply watch things from outside and still be happy. It's simply a choice we make. 

Getting back to the dance floor, if you're watching from outside, you'll find it to be an absolutely diverse and versatile environment. Dancing dinos. Dancing mice. Dancing peacocks. Dancing clowns. Dancing tortoises. Dancing ostriches. But they are all participating in the Dance of Life in the first place....doing it in their own unique way and, what's more, genuinely enjoying themselves. Some of them on the dance floor inspire 'outsiders' to join them through their sheer energy and enthusiasm while there are others who make an explicit effort to drag and cajole others to join the fun. Once on the dance floor, you may have other insensitive participants stepping on your toes or even nudging you out but those are to be tackled accordingly. You either move to a different and more comfortable place, or just ignore the interruptions as long as you can or perhaps nudge your way back in or maybe send out a friendly or hostile warning to the intruder. ;-) If you're tired or need to focus elsewhere, it's always OK to take a break and get off the dance floor and return when you feel up to it. The really dominant and ambitious ones wave to the person playing the music and ask for a specific tune. If you're one of the participants and don't like the new tune, the game gets more complicated. You can either deal with it on the same dance floor or maybe even create another whole new floor for yourself! Whew. I think this brings my analogy to a safe and logical end. 

The Dance of Work - Part 2. Coming next.

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